Political pandering is the norm for Larry Agran, the socialist councilman and wannabe mayor of Irvine. But I really expected more from our “Republican” council in Newport Beach. The dictionary defines “pandering” as providing clients for prostitutes. Put in other words, a “pimp.” That of course goes back to the old Ronald Reagan observation, “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”
I think this is a very good definition for what the Newport Beach City Council is doing regarding the proposed City Charter amendment, otherwise known as measure EE. According to the “Impartial Analysis” by the city attorney, the council is proposing to outlaw red-light cameras as one of the 25 changes to the charter, the city’s “constitution,” if you will.
Now, are there any red-light cameras in Newport Beach? No. Are there any red-light cameras planned for Newport? No. Have any of the staff or councilmembers asked for, or advocated, red-light cameras? No. Does anybody like red light cameras? I don’t know anyone who does. Yet, No. 1 of the 25 proposed changes is prohibiting red-light cameras. You’d think that there is a huge problem with red-light cameras…
That is why I believe that red-light camera prohibition is actually a red herring, pandering for votes. There is no problem now or in the foreseeable future with red-light camera use. The Charter Committee never discussed it. The Council is obviously hoping that the uninformed electorate will read No. 1, stop reading, say “Darn right!” and vote for EE – thereby adopting the other 24 items. As Maxwell Smart would say, “It’s the old don’t-look-at my-left-hand, just-look-at-my-right-hand trick.”
So the next question that I would ask is, what are they trying to hide? The last Charter amendment was just two years ago. They must have forgotten a few things, or why are there more “clean up” items for the very next election?
The advocates’ arguments indicate that it is simply a modernization of the Charter, making the city more efficient. They point out the outdated items, like responsibilities that the Newport Mesa Board of Education has long since assumed. I agree there are several items that no one has a problem with.
The ppponents’ arguments urge the voters to go to the “real” changes (they claim there are 38 changes). Things like changing the allowable $14,728.20 in “reimbursement of expenses” to the City Councilmembers; to instead refer to the amount as “compensation.” Compensation is currently NOT allowed under the Charter. The opponents also claim that EE does NOT deal with the $19,045.34 in health and retirement benefits each councilmember receives in addition to their “reimbursements.”
The City Council is trusting in the uninformed voter that stops at the No Red Herring/Light Cameras item and votes for EE, to make it difficult to engage the voters on the merits of the charter amendment.
And no, you can’t vote yes for some of the changes and no for others, it is strictly an all-or-nothing deal.
Larry Agran would be proud.